The CDC's Position on Mold, Dampness, and your Health
Below is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC - http://www.cdc.gov/) Official statement on Mold, Dampness, and your Health. I have added my own comments in regards to this statement at the bottom:
Facts about Mold and Dampness
There is always some mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years. Mold grows where there is moisture.
Mold and Your Health
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, molds can cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold, such as compost piles, cut grass, and wooded areas.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
In addition, in 2004 the IOM found sufficient evidence to link exposure to damp indoor environments in general to upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people and with asthma symptoms in people with asthma. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking exposure to damp indoor environments in general to shortness of breath, to respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children and to potential development of asthma in susceptible individuals. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould [PDF, 2.52 MB].
A link between other adverse health effects, such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy, and molds, including the mold Stachybotrys chartarum (Stachybotrys atra), has not been proven. Further studies are needed to find out what causes acute idiopathic hemorrhage and other adverse health effects.
(end of article)
In spite of the recent media hype over the presence of mould (mold) in residences and the workplace, there is virtually no scientific or medical data that supports the level of fear and concern generated by misleading and sensationalized news reports.
Please note that the CDC makes prefaces the article with "that there is always some mold everywhere", and, specifically, that exposure to such environments may cause some symptoms, "or none at all".
The next section of the article describes various symptoms that are most typically associated with common allergic reactions (or "allergies") - "nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation". This sentence is followed by indicating that people with existing or known mold allergies, as well as those that have weakened immune systems (due to illness or age) are at a higher chance of being affected, perhaps seriously. Please note that in no place does the article directly associate the risk of lung infection/disease and mold exposure with ordinary healthy adult individuals.
The next two paragraphs summarize studies done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2004. Once again, the studies link allergic type reactions to primarily healthy individuals, and greater symptoms to asthmatics and those with compromised or limited immmune systems, such as the ill, the elderly, and children.
The last paragraph addresses the disassociation between mold exposure, including, specifically, Stachybotrys chartarum, the mold species most commonly misidentified as "black mold" and/or "toxic mold" and symptoms such as acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage among infants, memory loss, or lethargy (fatigue).
Although I am no expert, in summary I find the CDC's position well in line with the standard position taken by other credible sources in the industry, and associated textbooks on the subject. Furthermore, the statements are supported by my relatively limited number of samples and clients. I am in full agreement with the CDC's position!
In closing, I urge all of you to do your homework and research the subject in detail prior to making any rash judgments, or furthermore spending large sums of money on unneeded or useless remediation techniques provided by unscrupulous or unknowledgable companies. Buried underneath all the hype, scare tactics, and misinformation is the truth.